Finding your voice as a yoga teacher

yoga teacher, yoga festival

Over these ten years of being a full time yoga teacher,

there have been many lessons to learn that were not taught in my trainings.

At first, as a super green and nervous yoga teacher all I thought about were class plans, how can I rock the class?!

I was so keen for the sequences to be remarkable, that shouted out ‘vinyasa teacher here’ , it’s amazing people came back. There were complicated sequences, that at times I forgot where it was heading and just had to get people into Child’s pose or Downward dog to gather myself.

Gradually over time with many hours of extra study,assisting and mentoring, I started to really see the students in front of me, people who make time in their busy lives to get on the mat.

Not just looking at their physical bodies but asking myself, how might they be experiencing this session? How can I facilitate this yoga class to be a safe space for my students to feel empowered and inspired?

The best way a yoga teacher can help their students to stay motivated, and excited at the wonderful power of yoga to heal, calm and de stress  is by feeling that too!

Here are a few tips

Keep Practising!

Your yoga practice is vital! It’s sad and puzzling when a teacher tells me they don’t have time for yoga self practice.

How else can you stay inspired and creative?

Teachers who do very little self practice, usually find themselves stuck on their mat during a class and using it as their own practice. Unsatisfactory for your students, how can you connect and guide if most of the time you are also hanging upside down in downward dog?

Forget notions that a real yoga practice has to be for at least an hour. 

My typical morning routine is straight into yoga gear, grab a cup of hot water and lemon and into my little yoga space. My practice will often only be for 30 to 45 minutes, incorporating pranayama, short meditation and whatever I want to focus my practice on. It could be inversions or a restorative, anything that calls to me.

Eke out your most optimum time to practice. 

Give yourself a break about what you think a perfect yoga practice should look like. If you are caring for others or managing a full time job, your yoga time will be different, just check your diary and write in the optimum time to make it happen.

Your yoga practice is what nurtures you and what excited you enough to sign up to a teacher training.

Don’t just practice what you are planning on teaching in class that day.

If you are mostly teaching beginners, your practice will be unable to deepen.

Go to classes or Workshops

Seek out teachers that inspire you and try to get their sessions when you can. It’s also a great way for you to introduce yourself to the teacher if you’d like to go on their cover list.

Looking after the students

Don’t throw students around the room!

In other words, are these people strong enough and prepared for one armed crow pose or whatever it is you really want to do today?

Of course you want students to enjoy your sessions but resist the urge to throw in complicated postures such as arm balances and inversions before a group is ready. I’m a big fan of teaching in baby steps, breaking a posture down so everybody can take little steps further and understand what needs to be in place.

Remember being a beginner

Do you remember attending your first yoga class? Trying to get the hang of Trikonasana or trying to shut out thoughts in savasana?

It’s easy to forget those early challenges as you have progressed but keep trying to view a class with a beginner’s mind. It’s often very insightful, when you discover what brought your students to yoga and will help you to empathise more.

What are your highs and lows with teaching?

I will be writing much more about finding your yoga teacher’s voice,

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Life after teacher training

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5 Responses to "Finding your voice as a yoga teacher"
  1. Ingrid says:

    As a student of yours I can say that I feel looked after and suitably stretched (some things that I can do and some things that pushes me on..). I really enjoy your classes. X

  2. Clare says:

    It’s useful and reassuring to get insight from an experienced teacher especially when you’re just starting the journey! Especially nice to know you don’t always spend hours on your physical practice – social media tends to give the impression that everyone else is awake at 6am practising for two hours!!! One of the most important lessons I’m learning is to keep going to other people’s classes. For one, it’s so nice to be taught instead of having to practice teaching on your fellow trainees and secondly it’s just nice to enjoy the benefits without having to ‘journal’ it ? Lovely class last night – thanks. ??

  3. Laura says:

    Always great advice from you Monique! Your calm reassurance really helped me when I started my own yoga classes. I really agree about trying to get to workshops etc to build and support your own practice. That’s why you will be seeing me on the 11th for your workshop! Looking forward to it. Laura

  4. Sally says:

    What a great blog… I can’t make the next Workshop but having been inspired to explore Vinyasa & develop my teaching by you Monique I will look forward to your next blog & our next meeting. I love to be taught & guided by teachers who I see as mentors from whom I can learn so much… Keep it coming 🙂 Sally X

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